That Summer

There’s a word that I’ve been hearing a lot lately. A bad word. Cancer. It seems to be everywhere. There are two young people in our small town who are fighting courageous battles right now. I’m hearing of lots of prayer requests and prayer circles – sending lots ofΒ  loving energy into the world. My cousin, Romeo, has cancer. All of my special humans are having discussions about the best way to deal with this. And just today I found out that another canine friend has left us for the land of eternal tennis balls. Cancer. I suppose that everyone everywhere has a story to tell about Cancer. I have a book to share. A sad book, but a hopeful, uplifting kind of sad.

IMG_2287That Summer
by Tony Johnson
illustrated by Barry Moser
published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2002

Theme – cancer, grief, family, quilts

A fiction book suitable for 1st grade and up

It begins –
That summer began like always,
with hoots and shouts, all of us running
into the sun,
freed from school,
over the porch,
over the lawn,
down the hollows,
Joey and I ran
like there was no tomorrow.

For these two brothers, the summer begins like every other summer – fun in the sun!!! But soon they are faced with Joey getting sick. And then, too soon, they are faced with Joey dying. “What do you do when ….. your heart hurts with grieving?” You cry and you dream walk. And you start to cherish every moment.

The boys’ Gram starts a quilt. And Joey decides to make one, too. A quilt that will piece together all the things that he loves. An owl, a fishing pole, a lightening bug, a baseball glove. Throughout the summer, the two brothers and the family and their friends, find ways to capture JOY. Ways to cheat that bad word – Cancer. That word is never actually mentioned in the book. But at one point Joey loses his hair and his brother shaves his own head. The youngsters in our town who are doing their best to cheat Cancer are dealing with those kinds of things too.

IMG_2290In the end, Joey does die. He leaves behind some bursting hearts. But also a quilt – stitched with love.

My readers had a bit of a hard time with this book. Some of them know the kids at school with cancer and the story was a little too close for them. But it opened some avenues for talk – and that’s a good thing. It’s a beautifully poetic book with some incredible, emotion-filled illustrations by Mr Moser.

In my younger days I visited a Children’s Hospital. There were lots of youngsters there fighting their personal battles with cancer and other illnesses. I sooo admired those kids and their families. They are all heroes in my book.

You can find out more about Cancer issues HERE at the American Cancer Society website.
And there are some good links and resources at Kids Cancer Network HERE.

You might want to participate in a local Relay for Life event. You can get more information about that HERE.

HERE is a fun idea for a friendship quilt wall display. And another fun Quilt idea HERE at Teach Preschool.

And for some info about canine Cancer check out 2 Million Dogs HERE. A few years ago, a young man had a dog with cancer and he decided to go on a walk to generate awareness for canine cancer. So he and his 2 Great Pyrenees dogs went on a journey from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts. And that journey has blossomed into a HUGE deal!!

And now after you’ve dried your eyes, you might want to go visit Susanna Hill’s blog where you’ll find a huge list of PERFECT PICTURE BOOKS and lots of resources to go with!

I’ll leave you with a song of hope from Mr Zach Sobiech –

I hope your tomorrows are bright and sunny!
Your ever hopeful and tail waggin’ friend
Rhythm
Copy of img311

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23 thoughts on “That Summer

  1. How sad, I’m so sorry for Romeo and all the ones fighting the cancer.
    I’ll look out for this book, Rhythm, it sounds like something I want to read.
    Big hug and lots of pats from us and the fairies to you all!
    Dina xo

  2. What a beautiful book and, as you point out, although it must have been difficult to read, it opened the door to thoughtful discussion. I’m sorry so many of your loved ones are battling cancer right now. I have a dear friend who is fighting it as well. One day at a time. She says she sometimes loses a battle but it’s to win the overall war.

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